Leadership, War and Hollywood
6 September 2019
Although many individuals assume that people are born to be inherent leaders with innate skills, traits, and characteristics, I believe leaders are not born with the ability to lead but develop their leadership skills over time.
One example of a great leader that inspires me and developed his leadership skills over time is my old swim coach Mike Simmerman. Mike started as a lifeguard at the Lake Club and worked his way to become the pool director and head swim coach. After his first year as a guard, Mike became an emergent leader within the lifeguards. He was informed and initiated new ideas around the club and later due to his leadership skills; Mike became the head guard. Mike became an assigned leader due to his position; however, he was still not a great leader and need to work on developing better leadership skills. Mike had to learn to get his followers to listen to him now that he was in a new place of power. Over time Mike learned how to influence others towards a common goal (creating a safe environment around the pool) and once again was promoted to the swim coach. Although Mike was promoted partially to his swim knowledge, he was also recognized as a budding leader and best suited to be placed into another leadership position. Mike Struggled with leading in each of his new situations; he had to learn how to adapt and develop new leadership skills to best lead his new followers exemplifying how leadership is not a born trait, but developed over time.
After thirteen years of swimming for Mike, I was able to learn how he leads and how he inspires others. Mike believed in process leadership, the idea that “leadership is a phenomenon that resides in the context of interactions between leaders and followers and makes leadership available to everyone” (Northhouse 7). Mike made sure that he and his “followers” had a mutual purpose; to become better people, swimmers, and to win swim meets. Mike also made sure that everyone had a leadership role themselves. In order to do this, he installed the Big Tiger Little Tiger program. The “Big Tigers” were the older swimmers and “Little Tigers” were the younger kids. The responsibility of the Big Tiger was to lead over the little tiger and help them during the meet. The program gave the Big Tigers a sense of responsibility and leadership and helped push the team towards being better people and better swimmers.
Mike inspires me due to his selfless leadership skills and ability to influence others without the use of coercive power. Many times when observing leaders, Coercive power is used to control followers; however, Mike gained referent power over time and used this to influence his followers. Referent power is power “based on followers’ identification and liking for the leader”(Northhouse 10), while coercive power is “derived from having the capacity to penalize or punish others”(Northhouse 10). Mike made sure that if his followers respected him, that respect would be reciprocated back to them. While having referent power, Mike also learned a necessary behavior that accounted for his success in leadership. Mike learned how to be firm with his followers but not rigid. He never punished people in order to gain power but made sure that inappropriate behavior was not tolerated. People would never be penalized or punished for the action but would be talked to understand why their behavior was not allowed respectfully. Mike ultimately inspires me due to his ability to lead not only the swim team but the entire pool staff, while maintaining respect to create a fun and healthy work environment
Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory and Practice. 6th ed., Sage, 2019.